Curtain Raiser

The World Gets Worse Fast, Colltalers

Everything about the massacre of 19 school children and two teachers in Uvalde, CA, by an 18-year-old with an AR rifle is awful. Including the likely response to it – nothing- and its fast obliviousness when the new one happens. And the next. Now, will anti-vaxxers fight monkeypox vaccines too?
Speaking of diseases, to everyone, the Covid scourge went beyond the estimated millions of deaths and forced lockdowns it’s caused. But not to U.K.’s Johnson: pictures now out show the P.M. partying like it’s 1999. And progressive Gustavo Petro won the first round of Colombia’s presidential race.
In Ukraine, where Russian troops “stormed” Sievierodonetsk and are on their way to capture the Donbas region, accusations of war crimes from both sides now muddle the narrative. That’s also part of the war, of course, especially one with so few independent journalists covering it. The latest so far unverified claim is about children being used in combat. It wouldn’t be a first and producing evidence of it will be hard. But it’s still necessary.
In Sweden, the Stockholm International Peace Institute has published a report about our future, and guess what, it’s not pretty. “Between 2010 and 2020 the number of state-based armed conflicts roughly doubled to 56. (…) The number of refugees and other forcibly displaced people also doubled, to 82.4 million.” To think that just last year, we were spending less than $2 trillion on the military. But those were the ‘good’ times, it seems, and they’re over.
In Iraq, Parliament just criminalized any attempt at normalizing relations with Israel. A victory for Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the ruling comes in reaction to a Saudi Arabia-led trend followed by other Arabian states, to forge ties with the Israeli government, whose state Iraq does not recognize.
In Brazil, heavy downpours and floodings caused dozens of deaths in the Northeast. In just two days, it rained more than 70% of what was expected for the entire month of May in Recife, Pernambuco. On Sunday, a landslide killed 19 people there, and the forecast is for more rain over the region. Last month, similar storms killed 14 people in Rio. There’s a consensus that along with La Niña, climate change boosts the impact of weather events.
In South Carolina, the Starbucks Workers Union has voted to unionize in a victory for workers trying to earn a decent living. The union has won more than 70 such contests, despite heavy artillery from CEO Howard Schultz, just like unionizing efforts at Amazon have been bombarded by billionaire Jeff Bezos. As wealthy owners and executives fight tooth and nail against it, a worker’s organized labor movement experiences a rebirth in America.
In Montana, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes have taken back control over the Bison Range. The 19,000-acre preserve was created in 1908 within the Flathead Indian Reservation and barred Native Americans from having a saying on it, even though that was a break of an 1855 agreement and despite the fact that they were the ones who introduced bison to the area. Negotiations to return it to its original owners took nearly two decades.
Only in America circa the 2000s, mass shootings and the massacre of innocent kids are considered inevitable. And a police force known universally for shooting unarmed Black people to death grants itself the right not to engage with a white murderer. They’ll wrestle and arrest desperate parents who beg them to act, but to confront a shooter is not part of their playbook. Even that had happened before, though. Everything about Uvalde is a replay.
Living in a world of permanent wars does terrible things to people, not just those literally on the line of fire. One of the worst is the normalization of death and obedience to a reductionist view of reality. The tragedy of child soldiers is a well-known tale of commoditization of human lives taken to a revolting extent: training children to become killers, never mind growing up. Warring states always consider using their most vulnerable for leverage.
It’s been a while since Ukraine accused Russia of training and sending its youth to the battlefield, often without the comfort of knowing why they’re fighting. Experts say that that’s the reason why the powerful enjoy forming kid armies: their brains are not yet ready to say stop to save their own lives, the poor things. Ukraine says its boys are eager to fight too, and many seem to be ok with the premise. But no incident has been verified with certainty.
The WHO (not the band) has received 257 confirmed monkeypox cases plus about 120 suspected in 23 nations. In Africa, where the virus is endemic, there have been over 1,300 cases. Concerned yet? Fine, but this is harder to catch than Covid and to some, immunity is already assured by the standard chickenpox vaccine. Before you get too relaxed, though, there’s a possible complication ahead: anti-vaxxers already vowed not to protect themselves.
There was a moment that seemed that everyone was going to catch Covid. Boris Johnson, for instance, did. But while millions died from it, he hosted parties at 10 Downing Street despite issuing strict isolation rules to his fellow Brits. A report by senior civil servant Sue Gray revealed that during the lockdown, there were 16 booze-soaked gatherings presided by Johnson and staff while no one else couldn’t socialize or visit sick or dying relatives.
Colombia is set to make history next month if it elects former guerrilla fighter Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez, an environmentalist and the first Black woman to lead the Colombians. They just need to beat businessman Rodolfo Hernandez again on June 19 and the right-wing opposition.
“The brutally unequal global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments is a consequence of an ever-increasing concentration of wealth and focus on profit maximization,” wrote the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunis in an op-ed piece. As the pandemic still rages, his views are right to the point. World leaders need to commit to prioritizing “human life over the profits of a handful of pharmaceutical companies.”  Get your ya-ya’s out! WC


5 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. It’s a very bad moment: unconscionable, the worst I have seen.
    A detail: William did not look at his brother in St Paul’s Cathedral.


  2. Jan Peppler says:

    Thank you for highlighting so much of what is weighing on my heart. It’s not just one thing or a few things – there are SO MANY things that are out of whack and unconscionable today. So much that is not okay. We have to keep naming these things. We can’t keep turning away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Colltales says:

    That’s my understanding too. Be safe, Uncle.


  4. David Klinke says:

    I think those of us with the Small Pox vaccine should be safe. — YUR

    Liked by 1 person

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